A rent increase ban for buildings with F-rated energy or lower would "protect vulnerable people who are having difficulty paying bills."
That's according to Green Party MEP, Ciarán Cuffe, who was speaking to Newstalk Breakfast about his call for a rent increase ban for all buildings F-rated in terms of energy or below.
Mr Cuffe said tenants who are living in poorly insulated buildings are struggling to afford rising energy bills and, in some cases, rent increases.
"I think we should take a leaf from what happens in Belgium .... the Government there has said, 'Look, you can't increase the rent unless you improve the energy efficiency of the home,'" he said.
"It's a sensible idea, and I think it would do a lot to protect tenants who are experiencing the cost of living crisis in Ireland at the moment."
Mr Cuffe said he believes landlords could upgrade their ratings through insulation in the attic, or thermostatic valves on the radiators.
"It wouldn't cost the earth and actually it would bring down heating bills significantly," he said.
"I think there is a way for landlords to upgrade their buildings relatively simply and even if they don't get the grants, they could do it anyway because they would recoup the costs.
"It can bring the energy rating up by one grade.
"Relatively simple measures can really save on bills. It could be draught-proofing your doors and windows. It could be the thermostatic valves on your radiators, which may cost €30 a pop, or it could be buying a few rolls of insulation and putting them in the attic.
"My concern in all of this is not for landlords, it's the tenants who pay the bills, and up to now we have no real reason or motivation for the landlord to improve the energy performance of the building."
Mr Cuffe said this would not necessarily mean that rents would not go up if improvements were made to the home.
"Even if the rent does go up, at least there's a saving on the energy bills," he said.
"Really what I want to try and do here is reduce the amount of energy that's been used in buildings and protect vulnerable people who are having real difficulty paying bills at the moment."
The issue of 'renovictions' – in which tenants are evicted from their homes due to renovations – is something Mr Cuffe said Government would have to safeguard against.
"Things like the rent pressure zones and the caps do help on all of this," he said.
Mr Cuffe said the rent increase ban would also help to tackle issues such as climate change.
"The bigger picture is the greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings," he said.
"It uses up about a third of the European Union's carbon budget and about 40% of the energy.
"So if we tackle buildings, we're well on our way to tackling our the climate challenges that are out there and also protecting the vulnerable."
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